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Planning Your Tree Project

Trimming or removal of trees can only be conducted safely outside of the breeding seasons for the bird species inhabiting the area. In the Bay Area, the safest time to schedule your tree project is from September through January.

A qualified independent biologist or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife should be retained by the project manager to conduct focused nest surveys prior to any work.

All persons under contract should be made fully aware of the laws protecting birds and the proper protocols when encountering active nests.

Hire an arborist that is ISA (International Society of Arborists) certified, a licensed landscaper, or a qualified tree trimmer who knows and cares about a tree’s health. Avoid hiring “bargain‟ tree trimmers or handymen, as they are generally inexperienced and may cause more harm than good to the trees.

Most trees in Northern California are trimmed excessively and inappropriately, especially around apartment complexes and condominiums. This is not only to the detriment of the trees, but it leaves fewer habitats for birds to thrive in. Examples of unnecessary tree trimming are:

  • Thinning out pine trees and conifers to the point that you can see through them.
  • Western Sycamore trees — they do not need pruning because they don’t drop limbs.
  • Removing dead palm fronds that drape down around the trunks of palm trees. The dead fronds provide valuable nest sites for orioles.

Choose tree varieties wisely. Put the right tree in the right place to prevent the need to severely trim or remove it later because it is too big, no longer “works,‟ or is causing problems for plumbing, sidewalks,  electrical lines, etc.

Please Remember: Trees are not ornaments; they are living organisms and will naturally become a host for other living things.

Return to general Tree Care and Bird Safety page.